1883 Magazine
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The first thing you notice about Achraf Amiri’s illustrations, are the eyes. Often sad, never empty, they blaze out of his illustrations, with soul and sex and the glamour of the subjects he portrays.

Born in Belgium, Amiri now resides in London, where he has wasted no time in embracing both the bright lights of the alternative party scene, and the darker side of the fashion industry.

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His affectionate portraits of the people who inspire him are juxtaposed with what could be termed a brutal exposé of the cruelties of a glamorous lifestyle. What is never far from Amiri’s work, though, is beauty. There is beauty in all his images, from his fond rendering of the East End trendies, to his zombie Marie Antoinette. But what motivates the artist, beyond the beauty and ‘coolness’ of the city he now calls home? I went to find out what inspires Achraf Amiri.

1883: Your work has hints of Anime, Manga and Naruto. Are you influenced by Japanese culture and art? What are your main inspirations and influences?

Achraf Amiri: Yes, because when I was a kid I use to copy every hero of my favorite Manga animations. My best ones were Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon and Saint Seiya,(many others too ...) I was fascinated by the dramatic scenarios in the stories and the style of drawing, those big eyes, skinny, long bodies, colorful outfits, etc. But this was only during my childhood. After that when I grew up and discovered more about the art in general, I left the Manga behind, but I guess that you see the influences of it in my illustration.

1883: Your work is primarily fashion based, how fine is the line between fashion and art, in your opinion, and how do the two worlds feed off/influence each other?

AA: It’s very close to fashion I think, because I’m someone who trusts in the beauty and aesthetic. Fashion is, of course, for me a form of art. But it doesn’t mean that I’m a fashion freak. The thing for me is to keep always a critical opinion and objective view of the fashion world. Fashion inspires me for her effect on people’s behavior. Finally, it’s all about ephemeris and cycle, otherwise it isn’t called fashion. 

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1883: You frequently touch on the dark side of fashion, drugs, eating disorders etc. Do you see this as glamorous, or does your work serve to warn/highlight the negative side of fashion-obsession?

AA: Firstly, I believe that I am an entertainer and illustrate for fun. The issues that I use to illustrate depends very much of my moods. I like to play with the "glamorous" ideology that people have about the fashion world. Trying to create a “disorder” about that concept is what I’m looking for.

1883: Who would you say are your muses?

AA:A lot of people that I have met, but especially my best friends Domenico Cordua, Céline Hogenkamp and Magaly Hermans.

1883: You’re from Belgium, and you’re based in London. How are you influenced by the places you live in, and which locations inspire you most?

AA: Actually, since I left Brussels, I went to live in Naples one year ago before coming to London, I felt a little bit lost. But finally, it was like I made a good decision, because it taught me much more about myself and what I want in my life, knowing more people, having more friends ... and an international reputation! 

In London, I feel the difference is in the difficulty of making a name, because of the fact that this city lives the art with a big capital A! But I stay patient and continue to meet fantastic personalities that inspire me, people that I meet at party’s such as the Wyld Wednesday at W hotel and Shabba Dabba Ra in East London ...

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1883: You seem to be an expert, ’people watcher’. Your London People series, for example, feels very personal, like you’ve met these people. How autobiographical would you say your work is?

AA: Like I said, I’m inspired by people I meet, especially party people. I like to make collections of things I like seeing or imagining. The series of "London People" is actually a collection in progress. The idea behind it is to ’Achraf-ise’ a lot of personalities that I met since I arrived in London. My work is autobiographical because I have only my eyes and my mind to create my visions.

1883: If you could be stuck in a lift with 3 people, living or dead, who would they be?

AA: Lewis Carroll, to tell me the story of Alice in Wonderland.

Céline Dion, to sing me songs and Steven Klein, to take some pictures of that dramatic moment. 

1883: What does the future hold for your work and what would you most like to focus on next?

AA: Only the future can tell us this, I will do my best to stay creative and original.

Words by Charlotte Foxon  

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